How to Decide if a Flip over Type Saw Is the Right Choice for You

Flip over saws have been around for years and are a firm favorite with carpenters and builders alike and for good reason. When considering a flip over saw, there are a number of things you need to assess. This article explains what it is like to own a machine that can do almost anything and is based on the writers extensive on site experiences with power saws.


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    Consider whether the flip over saw is what you need. Ultimately, you need a rough idea of your type of work to decide if a flip over saw is the right saw for you. For example; if you do mostly sheet panel work you might want a dedicated table saw with a larger bed or if you regularly cut unusually large, complicated cornices then maybe a dedicated larger blade, sliding chop saw is a better proposition. As a general, all purpose saw, flip over saws are going to be very hard to beat and it can be used for almost everything.
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    Consider the robustness of the saw. Professional flip over saws are robust and will cope with daily site work for many many years; cutting tough materials and handling the rough handling, dirt and wet that site work sometimes entails. This means that for workshop, home or hobby use professional flip over saws are just going to be cruising and might easily last for decades! Professional flip over saws are built for tough guys on site and won't fail. Flip over saws don't tend to break down.
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    Understand what flip over saws are like to use everyday. Ergonomically, they work well as their table height and sturdy legs make placing timber on them simple. As with all these saws, you will need side supports to hold longer timber lengths safely while you cut. You will get away with two but three is better (two to the left of you and one to the right to catch the off cut). You could buy dedicated supports but a great tip is to screw or cable tie timber 'packing' onto your existing 'saw horses'. Use the metal folding type with a four by two screwed to them if you want exactly the right height; this one makes handling long lengths a cinch, especially if working alone.
    • Switchgears are normally robust and reliable with safe no volt type switches, no false starts and a soft start-ups on most. Blade guards automatically move up out of the way on cutting and some have a slotted design so that you can see 'through' the guard down to your line if required. Moving the saw down and through the material should have a steady weight, feel sure and there should be no hint of 'play' anywhere.
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    Flip the saw into table mode. This is usually simple and only takes a few seconds. Pull the saw down and locate the locking mechanism then simply flip the bed over and it locks into place. The riving knife or separator blade can be dropped into place either before flipping or afterwards and is usually just a simple hand tight fastener. The riving knife also has a blade guard which automatically lifts over the wood when ripping making it totally safe.
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    Know how to run long lengths of timber through the blade. This needs care not to bog down the blade, ripping down a long length of 2"× 6" into 2"× 2"s for example (Sorry, 47mm × 150mm or 47mm × 47mm to be all European!) needs a steady push and accurate feeding. Wood is not the only material either; this saw cuts various plastic sheets, sections and even pipes.
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    Be aware of the pros of a flip over saw:
    • Versatile and adaptable, making it suitable for most jobs
    • Reliable, tough and capable of working in harsh conditions
    • Long expected life on site and virtually forever in the home workshop!
    • Has enough capacity to easily cut all common timber sizes found on the average job, 2"× 4", 1"× 6" etc (Sorry, 47mm × 100mm or 25mm × 150mm to be all European!)
    • Converts in a flash from combination crosscut saw to table saw
    • Portable and stores well in the truck, esp. in table saw configuration with legs off
    • Good switch gear, both table and handle mounted
    • Sturdy and heavy construction with its own legs makes bigger timbers no problem
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    Be aware of the cons of a flip over saw.
    • Doesn't have a plunge depth stop, although arguably rarely needed either
    • Lacks the larger cutting capacity of a dedicated table saw or big combination saw
    • Can be heavy to lift alone (I guess that the writer is getting old!)
    • Need to remember to turn a blade stop key when cutting unique angles you will only forget once though!
    • Dust extraction system is arguably complex and expensive, although efficient
    • Everyone on site will want to 'borrow' it!
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    Consider if you're someone who should buy a flip over saw. It would be difficult to list everyone who would find a flip over saw a useful addition to their tool kit but definitely if you are building; renovating; remodeling; restoring; extending; repairing; upgrading; fitting kitchens or bathrooms, framing works, building decks or sheds, woodworking hobbies or simply want some saw bling in the garage, most flip over saws will accurately and reliably cope with your cutting needs and more.


  • These saws are large, mostly professional quality machines and therefore must be treated with the utmost respect, they are often powerful and capable of very hard work.
  • This means that care must be taken when using it.
  • Proper clothes and footwear must be used.
  • Eye protection is also required every time, along with ear protection for prolonged use.
  • Tuck away anything that is loose and could possibly catch in the blade.
  • Work in a clear area with good underfoot conditions, i.e no rubble or debris lying around.
  • Warn other people close by not to approach you while using the saw, but to wait until you have switched off the saw and the blade has stopped.
  • Hold the workpiece firmly and be familiar with how the blade cuts through the material and how it feels.
  • Don’t use excessive force to cut the material, let the blade do the work.
  • Keep the blade in good condition by regular cleaning and re-sharpening.

Sources and Citations

  • Original source of article, Ian Anderson's website about flip over saws.

Article Info

Categories: Manual and Power Saws | Tools